Yambol In Shock After Coach Tradegy At Bakardzhik

Yambol In Shock After Coach Tradegy At BakardzhikI was going to write about something completely different, but this morning there was something that just hit home how vunerable we all are in this world.

Today in Bulgaria it is Ascension Day or Spasovden as it is called here. It is a religious public holiday and we had plans to go all go to the cemetery and pay our respects to family member on this day.

Our house is right next to Yambol’s hospital and this morning there were lots of cars parked on the road and pavement quite early on. We also heard lots of sirens from ambulances coming and going and at that point we put two and two together knowing that there must have been and accident. We went out o n the street and found out from neighbours and relatives that were visiting the hospital that at the location of ‘Bakardzhik’ a big hill a few kilometres away.

There had been a coach whose brakes had failed and crashed into a crowd of walker who were making their way to the peak on this special religious holiday. To date there are 16 dead and 20 plus injured and we are all in shock here. (The picture taken leading to the summit taken in January this year.)

We sometimes walked up to the Bakardzhik peak ourselves and feel for those who were spiritually at their own peak on this glorious warm and sunny day. It is too early to know the final outcome of the tragedy. It is not just for the dead and injured that will suffer, but the whole of Yambol, a close-knit community who also have to deal with this happening.

Quite often and at times like this I wonder what God is playing at!
We have just found out that one of our friend's mother was one of the victims no longer with us. There is nothing you can do or say, but just be there for them.
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Bulgarian Graduation Party - A Family Affair

I have just caught my breath from this last weekend where another celebration took place. The 24th May each year is a National celebration of Bulgaria’s education, culture and Slav letters (Cyrillic).

During this day all graduates of high schools around the country have an ‘American type’ ball where they join up with a partner and parade through a funnel of onlookers in every town and city centre on the way to a restaurant or function room for the graduation ball. This tradition has been around for many years, Galia remembers her day quite a few years ago; I’ve seen the pictures.

Bulgarian Graduation Party - A Family AffaIt all started a few weeks ago where Galia’s cousin was one of the graduates to parade on the day and she needed a ball dress. Needless to say this was women’s work so I left them to get on with the purchase, alterations and adjustments needed to make it perfect. It was a bit like she was getting married and this was the wedding dress what with all the fuss and commotion.

Bulgarian Graduation Party - A Family AffaThere was a party planned the Friday before Sunday and the big day, so to cut the cost a small area was borrowed from friend who owns one of the Internet Cafes in Yambol. All the food and drink was homemade including much produce from the factory farm and brought in to the caterpillar style table that was made up of a number of round tables. A laptop and hi-fi was brought in from home and turned into a DIY DJ system. The area that we sat in was on a first floor balcony overlooking the Tundzha River and an ideal setting on this particular warm balmy evening as the homemade Rakia and beer that was brought in began to flow. By the way the Rakia was very special, it was made by Galia’s brother was 17 years old and saved especially for this occasion.

The whole evening was a family celebration for the graduate who now was to go to University for five years after working through the summer break. Flowers were given to her from all the family guests arriving along with little money or jewellery pieces to those who could afford it.
Bulgarian Graduation Party - A Family AffaThen later that evening a speech and a composed peom recited from various family senior members complimenting the graduate giving a history of her excellent education and all wishing her good health, wealth happiness and luck for the future, oh and love of course!

Bulgarian Graduation Party - A Family AffaThen to top the evening off, a big decorated cake was presented sliced and eaten, very much like a single storey wedding cake. The graduate and a couple of other contemporary members of the family then left the party here to go to another party to meet friends somewhere else in the town centre and left the older family members to carry on where they left off - Eating, drinking, dancing, singing and of course talking. The younger family members were put in the Internet cafĂ© and play computer games unit the early hours of the morning. Everyone was happy and it didn’t cost much to set up!

My hangover was soon over the next day as an aspirin was taken and a drive to the village where there was two days of haymaking waiting for me. Then the trip back to Yambol for the 24th May celebrations and the city centre parade.
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Surviving In Bulgaria With Little Money

Commemorative 1.

Many people have asked me how I survive in Bulgaria with so little money. It is no secret that I came over here with hardly any savings, no job and very much with an adventure on a shoestring in mind. Most of my money that I came over with vanished completely as I crashed someone's car and had to fork out thousands of pounds to replace it. Without that incident, I would not have had to go back to the UK for a few months to work for more funds to stay here.

Back to the question and maybe an answer. Living here, I can easily live on my own for next to nothing. I was living on less that 20 Bulgarian leva a week when living on my own in my first year here and I ate well, no restaurants or uneccessary spending. Right now I could quite easily return to that economical life although the cost of living here has risen substantially since joining the EU so to survive here solo it might have risen to around 30 Bulgarian leva a week, plus the fact that expatriates have extra cost as the running of their business have to be paid, (Your land can only be owned by a registered Bulgarian company of which you are the manager.)

Right now though we are finding it difficult to live on 100 Bulgarian lev a week, mainly because we are having to provide food for our family, fuel costs for the car, electric, gas and water bills for two homes. When we leave Galia's family home, which will happen one day, we are not sure when or where we will end up, we should be able to survive on around 70 Bulgarian leva a week or even less if we gave up the weekly trips to the Skalitsa farmhouse.

Whatever happens, both Galia and I remain quite sure that I will not have to return to the UK to work, we will try an make out here indefinitely no matter how hard it is. If Galia was to lose her job again then we would really struggle and make even more cuts on our simple lifestyle. This is how it used to be not so long ago in the 1990s with Galia. Like many others here., she had no job, no social security to fall back on and had to resort to selling her possessions to pay for food. She doesn't like to talk about it, but I know they were close to starving many a time, which happened in many town and city areas throughout Bulgaria. Those in the villages where luckier as had their own food from their farms to rely on of course.

I don't think it will ever get to the 'starving' level whatever happens as families support each other in times of need. In the village that would certainly be the case with our close friends there who would also 'help us out' food wise. We could survive financially if we moved out into a village where generations had lived on almost nothing other than their working on the land, wits and total practical way of life.

If there is one thing I have found out since living here in Bulgaria, it is that town and city living is far more expensive that village life. That is entirely due to the barrage of advertising in the totally business based cities and town environments. The seeds of materialism have been sown and the only escape is out of town, but then the invasion of the television is still very much a threat, even out of town.

The answer ot the original question can now be answered - How do I survive on so little money? Simple I live the lifestyle of a Bulgarian.

Image via Wikipedia
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Snakes Galore In Bulgaria Right Now

snake and acorns

Galia has now returned to work just over a week ago as the factory is just making ends after a major scare when orders dropping like a lead balloon. The order for electric/wood burning boilers is just ticking over as Galia was now asked back to work. This is great news after her recent medical problem and somewhat brings about a massive relief as we bring some much-needed cash into the home. We all hope that the orders stay on a level term until thinks pick up again.

This week we were reminded of the snake experience we had in the village last year, not pleasant one at all for Galia. Now that the warm weather is here and Galia returned to work in the office it came to pass that she leaves the office door open. As she wonders about the factory grounds to inspect the work on the boilers she returned to the office only to find a big snake that had made its way into the room.

A massive shriek was made and three workers came to here aid with a chair, a spade and a watering can! Dont' ask why! The snake just didn’t have a chance as it was batter to death and fed to the security dogs. Well that';s the Bulagrian way I suppose. The snake wasn't poison, b ut was over a metre in length. Needless to say the office door now is kept firmly shut and checks made by security in the morning before she arrives.

Galia is now a bag of nerves as this was the first encounter of snakes in the town. They are usually confined to the village areas, now she has to contend with the fear of knowing they are about in town. And on the television this evening on the news there was a public information service giving advice on which snakes were poison and which weren’t and also warning that the onset of hot weather this week will bring about a small invasion of snakes about right now. Not something many people here want.

Having known for some time that snakes in Bulgaria are a problem from stories told from folk in my village, it s a wary couple that go to Skalitsa this weekend. It is not only to see whether the recent earthquake has left the farmhouse in one piece, but to gingerly check each room for snakes before we settle in. And to think I was out and about haymaking in snakes territory in just flip-flops and shorts last weekend! Never a dull moment here in Bulgaria.
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Failed Crops, But No Worries

Failed Crops, But No WorriesIt has been the busiest week so far this year trying to get everything planted out on the two plots of land in the village and town and trying to keep on top with blogging. Well the blogging has had the foot off the accelerator recently and I apologise to fellow blogging friends for not paying visits recently. There just aren’t enough hours in the day and the candle has been burnt at both ends recently.

It is a time where everyone here in Bulgaria is out tending to crops. Not only do they need planting right now they need watering, sometime two or three times a day with temperatures soaring to over 30 degrees and we are not in the hot season yet. When the seedling are put in the have to be treated like babies, tended to every moment until they are established. They are at their most sensitive and the slightest neglect at this stage can ruin a whole crop. This has happened to me already as I left the town farm for 6 days as it was a six-day weekend holiday and the factory had closed for that period. A crop of beans had failed when I got back from lack of water. In the village the strawberries newly planted in the autumn had hardly any fruits on as they needed watering every two days – I am not there for five days at a time. Strawberries were not a good idea with the time I spend there. The melons both the watermelon and the honey melon both failed to germinate because of the 5-day absence and neglect.

Failed Crops, But No WorriesOn another front the two patches of sweet corn that was sown were almost another complete failure. I have to transplant half the seedlings from one patch to the other as over half had died due to not being tended to on a daily basis. I have now put more melons in their place and a massive reservoir channel dug out with advise from locals. I won’t find out whether this has survived until this coming weekend and it will be 6 days without water as we are not due until Saturday this weekend.

It was my own fault. I knew these types of crops would not be a success, but I went ahead regardless with a little hope tucked away. Hope was all that was there as I had to rethink and be realistic about what can and can ‘t work without water for 5 days. The garlic, onions and potatoes are thriving, these were my original plan and they all worked. The grapes look after themselves so no worries there. The biggest job however is the field, some 6000 square metres of meadow that needed to be cut. This had to be done with a scythe; everyone uses this tool in Bulgaria and last weekend it was out with the sharpening stone and a weekend of haymaking.

Failed Crops, But No WorriesIt is really quite a sense of pointlessness as I started getting stuck in to this massive field when I was asked where my horse was from one of my neighbours who were doing exactly the same thing in a field adjacent to mine. He of course knew full well I didn’t have a horse and my donkey was long gone salami to gypsies a couple of years ago. I said that Galia son Ivo has a rabbit in Yambol and this was rabbit feed for next winter. We both laughed as the joking went on. In all seriousness, I was cutting hay for my neighbour’s horse although he didn’t know it yet. If the hay isn’t cut and left to seed next year’s crop would be poor so it was also for that reason as well.

Failed Crops, But No WorriesIt was a long haul, but I loved it, no Galia there as she was working her Saturday in lieu of the 6-day weekend so it was make your own dinner in the evening. I couldn’t wait with a couple of lettuce and radish for the town farm brought o the village and onion and green garlic with sirene, olives and sunflower oil, red vinegar and salt as dressing. A glass of my own homemade sliva (plum) rakia and ice cold Ayran alongside. All on a table under the grapevine trellises looking at the field that had just had its hay cut and now drying out in the warm evening air. It wasn’t the same without Galia though and as I sat down on my own I really couldn’t see the point of preparing all this without someone to share it with and a reminder of lonely times before I met Galia working on the farm – Another story altogether.

Things are looking great here, both in the town and village – Yes we have had crop failures, but that’ down to my bad planning and faint hope that I should have dispelled from the start. There is still plenty of time to replant and that’s what I have been doing over the last few days. Exciting times here.
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A Tortoise Or Slow Coach On Bulgarian Roads

A Tortoise Or Slow Coach On Bulgarian RoadsEvery since setting foot in Bulgaria I hear from lots of Bulgarians that there are lots of tortoises roaming around the country. Up unit this week the only ones I have see are pets that are kept by one of Galia's family. I haven't seen any 'wild tortoises' anywhere despite living in perfect tortoise country with vegetation abound for those slow but constant lawnmowers. Even in the village farmhouse tortoises have never nibbled my vegetables, but then they might have a preference for my neighbour’s superior vegetables.

So it came to pass that we were on our way to the village farmhouse in the Lada, a slowcoach itself today as I was freewheeling wherever I could to save on gas. We got about 8 kilometres for the Skalitsa village and I saw my first 'wild' tortoise in the middle of the road taking its time to cross dead casual like! It wasn’t exactly a screech of the brakes, I wasn't going fast enough for that, but we stopped and it was out of the car to investigate this 'wild' Bulgarian tortoise.

A Tortoise Or Slow Coach On Bulgarian RoadsAs I got to the tortoise it shelled up and remained in its home throughout our encounter, I don't blame it I'm an ugly and mean, perhaps it thought I was a gypsy and it was lunchtime. Anyway, the investigation went on as I picked it up and had a close look at it. Funny but for a wild tortoise it wasn’t wild' at all, it did nothing. I could see its head tucked away and its eye peering out at me and I knew it wouldn't budge with me holding it. It was put in the verge with some greenery, but still wouldn't come out even after a five-minute wait. Time to go home was the call from Galia waiting patiently in the Lada looking at this Englishman with a fascination for this creature. She of course is well used to tortoises in Bulgaria and found them quite boring as they didn’t do anything.

So it was a reluctant Martin who got back into the car after saying goodbye to this temporarily hibernated tortoise for what is was worth, I didn't even have a chance to say hello!

Well I got a picture or two of my first encounter with a wild Bulgarian tortoise, but I was wilder with excitement than anything else.
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Bulgarian Cat And Rat Saga

Bulgarian Cat And Rat SagaThe rats are still having it all their own way after the new trap system was installed. It just didn’t work. The rats just aren’t interested in circus acts before being drowned in the sunflower seed covered water so it was back with another plan and another trap.

There are many types of trap they use here including the conventional spring loaded baited plate, but a favourite is the sprung door which is snapped shut when the bait is tampered with inside the metal cage. We set up one each of these traps for a few nights to see if we could any success. The bait I feel it the secret so every day we change the food that lures them.

Chicken, salami, sirene, chocolate, sunflower seeds, cake where some of the food we tried and then success! Some Bulgarian salami on the bait the metal cage did the trick and got its first rat. We were at the farmhouse at the time so it was left for Baba to do the business of drowning it in a bucket of water.

Bulgarian Cat And Rat SagaWhen we arrived Baba had saved the drowned rat for us to see. Not a pretty sight and brought about more worries on assessment. This was not the rats we had seen scampering in and out of the garage, but a baby rat! Rats don’t just have a single ratlet but a litter, there must be many other and the parents still have the run of the place. This rat was so to speak a drop in the ocean!

We decided there and then that enough was enough we should use poison. Galia and Baba were against this as they argued that there would be the smell of rotting rats that they would have to put up with through the warm weather we are having right now. What was the alternative? Well there wasn’t a case to answer really for not putting down poison now. Me being the man of the house was asked to make the decision even though they weren’t that keen on the answer.

Bulgarian Cat And Rat SagaThe poison laid that night and the following morning it had all disappeared. This was a good feeling as I topped up the little plastic trays for another night of toxic feasting in store.
That same day we met up with some family and were dragged into their home for some beer and salami. They live on the 4th floor of an apartment in Yambol centre, we also met their cat! Mmm, the idea of borrowing a cat seemed on so I asked. The next thing I knew was the cat had been packed away in a travel cage with some cat food in a plastic bag and we were off home with a cat that wasn’t too happy about being shoved around.

The cat spent the night in the yard in his confined space and the following morning we opened the cage ready for it to check the garage for vermin after we had cleared all the poison away. No poison had been eaten, probably because the cat was in the area. As the door opened the cat sprung out scaled an 8-foot wall and landed in next doors driveway where a big guard dog was waiting. All we could hear was continuous barking and hissing.

As we ventured next door there was the confrontation, the dog wanting to attack but every time he when near the cat hissed and the dog stopped. That was how it was for quite a while. We managed to get the dog away, but the cat was now wild and would not let us anywhere near it. I got clawed and bitten trying to get the cat back into the travel cage. The only answer now was to get the owner, who we rung. He was due to arrive lunchtime and did. The cat was now in the box after the owner did the business and he was to collect it after work later that day.

Bulgarian Cat And Rat SagaThe evening ended up with a party as the family came to collect the cat. I was a good idea but just didn’t’ work with this particular cat. We all got together to tell the story and catch up with other news. An excuse to bring out the Rakia, home grown salad from the factory farm picked earlier in the day and another sirene dish that I will have to write up about it was that good.

So more poison put down in the garage before bedtime as we have now run out of ideas. It should do the job as it does in the farmhouse where it is laid down permanently in hidden areas. No problems at all there.
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Free Marijuana (Cannabis) In Bulgaria

I had heard many times that marijuana or cannabis grows wild in Bulgaria. This is true as have located lots growing wild near my farmhouse each year. Yesterday whilst working on the factory farm clearing some undergrowth I came across some more healthy specimens growing quite happily alongside vegetables and fruit trees. My mind was reminded about it again and got to thinking about the possibilities of business that could be made here out of a product that just needs no attention to cultivate. Surely some people here must do this, on a small scale as a private business, but my inquiries told me otherwise.

It was mentioned to workers in the factory that Marijuana is growing on the factory grounds. They all knew about it and couldn’t understand why I mentioned it. They knew it was a narcotic and every few weeks it is cut down along with the other weeds, dried out for a few days and feed to the chickens and rabbits, which are kept on the factory grounds. Bulgarians it seems accept marijuana as part of the food chain for animals and not for human consumption; this was hard to take in board for me who comes from a culture where this weed is abused and exchanges hands for lots of money. Surely the business must go on her in the bigger towns and cities.

Allegedly there is commercial marijuana farms further west in Bulgaria that are up and running and run by the mafia and largely ignored by politicians (and wisely so.) As long as it keeps the peace I suppose is the reason for this. Also, I’m sure other countries have their own productions of supplies run by mafia based businesses. This I feel might this may be a very good reason why no small entrepreneurs are trying to capture any business in the marijuana market – They might find themselves in a very compromising position if found out by the men in black. To me the fear of interfering with mafia business is a far greater deterrent than any government, but then one might argue that many government circles conspire with mafia anyway.

Now whether you are a fan of marijuana or not, you can’t eradicate the weed as it is a natural part of the ecology in Bulgaria. It is very good to know that in the main it is not abused, but then magic mushrooms (Psilocybin mushrooms) grow here as well and they are not abused. It looks like there is no need for narcotics here for the Bulgarian people. With their respectful family units and social etiquette, the use of drugs and such things are not needed. My opinion is that if you have a country that makes its own excellent Rakia and some of the world’s best beer all at an affordable price, who really needs it?

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Bulgarian Slivatree - The Noblesse Oblige Award

I make is a rule not to accept nominations form other bloggers and there have been a few, but recently there was one from Windmill at http://dfoolonthehill.com/.

I have decided to take this nomination up because I respect Windmill and look up to him as a blogger for his diverse and interesting daily accounts and observations on all matters that concern him and others. Windmill or Windy as some call him is always friendly, loyal and approachable in all communication.

I would like to nominate Martyn from Beyond The Mango Juice. Although not technically an expatriate, he might as well be with his cleverly constructed articles. I always look forward to his posts as I know I will not only be enlightening from tales of Thailand, but thoroughly entertained without fail as his humour and on the mark observations and knowledge hits on all the right buttons.

Beyond The Mango Juice

putting together life’s jigsaw in North East Thailand

A recent post about Thai Ladyboys - Pattaya, is a classic example and is the last in a series of account about Thailand and sex for sale. You might understand that this is quite a sensitive subject, but dealt with superbly without being course and of course always entertaining. Martyn is one of the friendliest bloggers you will ever meet and I feel this award is more than well deserved on this ocassion. I recommend you visit his blog and follow it you may be missing some classic posts otherwise.

The Blogger who receives this award will need to perform the following steps:

1. Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
2. The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post.

  • The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.
  • The Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.
  • There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture and Sciences and Beliefs.
  • The Blog is refreshing and creative.
  • The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.

3. Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved, preferably citing one or more older posts to support it.

4. The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions.

5. The Blogger must display the Award at any location at the Blog.

Yambol Snail Gratin Recipe

I love cooking and snails and would rather have them on my plate than in my garden. For your information, most if not all snails are edible, they can be made into an excellent meal and of course all for free if you find your own. The meat is nutritious, virtually fat free and depending on where you pick your snails, chemical-free.

The recipe given here is my own and specifically for the European Garden Snail (Cornu aspersa) and has been made from ingredients that were available to me living in Bulgaria.

Yambol Snail Gratin

Serves 2

  • 30-40 live snails
  • 3-4 green garlic thinly sliced
  • 200 grams butter or margarine
  • 50 grams sunflower oil
  • A large dash of Rakia (homemade if possible)
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Salt
  • Water (enough to cover the snails)
  • Breadcrumbs

Ingredients not available in your country can be substituted
Rakia for brandy or dry white wine
Sirene for goat cheese or other white cheese
Green Garlic for Dried garlic

Preparation of the Snails:

The snails need to fast for at least two days before being cooked. It is best to use a plastic bowl and some chicken wire over the top. They need to be stored in a cool and well-ventilated place. Rinsing them out with plenty of running water every 12 hours is recommended.

Prepare a pan of boiling water add the stock and salt and carefully add the live snails. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Using a colander drain the water off. When cool enough to handle, use a pin or sharp skewer and extract the snail meat form the shells. Try to get the whole snail meat not just the first section you will be surprised how much snails there is in there. Once all extracted rinse and put to one side.

In a frying pan add the butter, garlic and bring to an agitated sizzle, then add the rakia and the snail meat immediately after. Continue frying on a high heat whilst stirring all the time for 2-3 minutes add a pinch of salt and stir then take away from the heat.

Place the snail mixture equally in ovenproof bowls and cover with breadcrumbs and sprinkle a little crumbled sirene over the top of this. Place under a grill until you see the breadcrumbs turn golden brown.

Serve hot with cold lager type beer.

This snail dish can be served the next day as a cold snack.

The snails can be refrigerated for one or two days or frozen up to three months once boiled and picked out of their shells. Make sure they are defrosted thoroughly before frying if frozen and keep in air-tight containers.
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Bulgarian Sunday Lunch In The Slow Lane

Bulgarian Sunday Lunch In The Slow LaneSnails are free food, but the appeal certainly isn't a favourite with most people and that’s not just vegetarians either. The thought of the slow, slimy, slippery creatures as a meal just puts many if not most people off. Snails are land lubbers where whelks are seafaring with a more popular following as a snack, but essentially they are the same in both physical looks, texture although having a more distinctive taste. So why the big ‘Yuk!’ to garden snails on the dinner plate?

It was snails on the menu this weekend for Galia and I as we stopped just outside Yambol after a night of rain together snails that large and abundant. Free food, but not restricted to Bulgaria, in the UK garden snails are edible albeit more polluted. We knew the snails we were picking up were healthy and succulent on the fresh green spring growth that had dinner written all over it for these lucky snails and the snails in turn had dinner written all over them for us. Oh the food chain is wonderful thing isn't it?

We must have picked about 30 to 40 snails and took them the farmhouse where we put them in a bucket with an iron grill off the barbecue system and weighted it down with a Skalitsa healing stone we had picked up last year whilst being healed, so any ill snails would be cured, but they couldn't escape. They could poke their heads though the grate but their shell houses couldn't be dragged through with them. To eat snails you need their digestive system to be clear and that means starving them for two days. It was Friday so they would be ready to cook on Sunday; this was our plan for Sunday lunch.

Each morning and evening I washed them out with water and put them back in the bucket. Sunday morning after their last wash they were put into some boiling water then winkled out with a skewer. Then the snail meat was fried in butter and home grown green garlic with a little rakia and turned out in a couple of ramekin bowls. Each bowl of snails was covered with breadcrumbs and grilled until brown.

Bulgarian Sunday Lunch In The Slow LaneOutside, Galia had set the table outside in the sunshine that had come out after the rain we had had for two days. This had some cold Sofia beer called ‘Ariana,’ waiting on the table to greet us along with the snail dishes that were ready to serve. We spend the next 20 minutes enjoying out free feed in beautiful surroundings being washed down with cold beer. Yambol snails and Sofia beer - A great combination!

I recommend snails for Sunday lunch to anyone, it is a superb no cost chemical-free food with little if no fat and no animal rights campaigners in sight! Notice I haven't mentioned the French - Oops I just did!

My own step-by-step snail recipe is being prepared in next post.
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Bulgarian Storm Is No Deterrent For Bonfires

Bulgarian Storm Is No Deterrent For BonfiresBack on the smallholding in Skalitsa I was looking forward to some outdoor work this weekend mainly weeding and general pottering around in my element as I tend to do. However, I found that Galia had a particular fascination on the farm that kept here boiling over with enthusiasm throughout the weekend.

We arrived early Friday and no time for even a cup of tea as I changed into my Bulgarian blue village clothing and got to work on those weeds. Within the space of three hour the whole area was basically weed free as the clouds gathered.

It hadn't rained here all week and the ground was like dust as I worked through the weeds leaving a dust cloud as I hit out of those unwanted green bits whose roots cling for dear live into the nutritious soil. Talking of clouds, above, they were now gathering in and looking menacing with thunder and lightning in the distance, but here doesn't mean it will rain. I've lost count of the number of times I have presumed it will rain and held off watering the crops only to find that it didn't rain. With this in mind it was full steam ahead with the water from the well giving the whole area a big soak. It was so much of a soak in fact that I had used all the reserves of water from the well and had to wait a couple of hours for it to fill up again. Of course wouldn't you know it, the heavens open up and a violent storm ensued with torrential rain on a well-water soaked ground whilst the waiting pursued!

Bulgarian Storm Is No Deterrent For BonfiresAnd what was Galia doing leading up to this? Well she has a secret passion for bonfires. Last weekend I had the scythe out and cut down the long grasses on the chicken run and verges. Having no rain all week mean that the grasses had dried and was perfect for burning. I don't like burning hay but I have no livestock right now and the quality of hay isn't good enough to store anyway, which is what I'd normally do. Besides the stables are still half full of last year's hay. The grasses were bundled and stacked and the bonfire was lit and under way. Galia took the bull by the horns and became a self nominated and unanimous leader of the bonfire pack as she spent the next two days governing it and keeping it going even through thunderstorms and monsoon fashioned rain! She was on a high all weekend playing and twiddling with the bonfire looking for more stuff to burn and try and overcome the rain that kept damping it down. In fact all the plastic had now disappeared up in black smoke that had been stocked up in the stables to take to Yambol and put into the town bins. Bulgarian think nothing of burning anything that burns, besides no one is going to tell us off for bonfires in Bulgaria - Such a great joy here to be able to do so when and where we want!

There wasn't anything at all we could do on the land apart from those first few hours on the Friday as it rained continuously for two days thereon. This gave us a chance to relax for a change, apart from bonfire monitoring of course.

Bulgarian Storm Is No Deterrent For BonfiresIt is back to Yambol later today (Sunday evening) and more partying on as it is a public holiday until Thursday. Also there isn't much we can do on the City farm assuming that Yambol has had the same amount of rain.

By the way potatoes, sweetcorn, water and honey melons respectively have not truely sprouted and we are taking back with us lot os onions and garlic which Baba loves so much. The pumpkins not quite up yet, but they were only sown last weekend. The first crop of strawberries will be ready to eat in a couple of weeks along with the cherries on the tree that are intended for more rakia making. The grapes have ther first vine leave out now only a short while and we'll pick a few to use for sarmi (mince wrapped in vine leaves.) Wild spinach (Bulgarians call it laput) was also gathered from the grounds to take back to Yambol, Baba will make a meal that will last us three days with this. Free food we love it and to be quite honest couldn't manage without it!

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